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Trib Cup: Quaker Valley boys keep winning despite injuries, graduation losses

| Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, 7:46 p.m.
Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's John Bernard, a junior, tries to block a Cornell player during a game at Quaker Valley High School Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Sewickley Herald
A Cornell player blocks a pass made by Quaker Valley's Burke Moser, a senior, during a game at Quaker Valley High School Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review

The Quaker Valley boys basketball team got off to a 4-2 start despite fielding a team that lost seven seniors to graduation and suffered through a string of injuries that's hindered its continuity.

Head coach Mike Mastroianni has been shuffling rosters and game planning with a group that lacks varsity experience. Despite their lack of letterwinners, the Quakers are standing tall among the Class AA ranks.

In the Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award's last feature of 2012, we highlight the Quakers for their ability to adapt, adjust and accumulate wins. Quaker Valley is in seventh place in the Class AAA standings.

“Going into the season, we knew we were going to be a very young team,” Mastroianni said. “We've actually have weathered some major injuries. Saying all that we have a 4-2 record and are gaining some continuity and heading in the right direction.”

Jake Trovato and Kendall Luton were expected to start and be major contributors this season before being lost to injury. Instead, Mastroianni has relied heavily on Burke Moser and Nelson Westwood for leadership and performance.

“We ask them to do a lot,” Mastroianni said. “For them to play well, they don't even necessarily have to score; they just bring the young guys up and take some pressure off them.

“They are four-year guys and have been on playoff teams. They understand the process and level of expectation as a program.”

The Quakers have gotten valuable playing time from seniors Micah Glenn and Jack McGarry as well as juniors Qadir Taylor, John Bernard and Winter Fondi. Sophomore Chris Conlan has been thrust into a starting role that will provide valuable experience as his career progresses.

“When you play so many new guys together, there are always some growing pains,” Mastroianni said. “These guys have gained some good experience now. As a coaching staff, you try to remain positive. We're pleased with what we've seen.”

Mastroianni won't make any prediction as to how the season will play out, but he hopes that, come February, he can discuss the value that was gained by a junior-laden group thrust into starting roles. The winning tradition, he said, is a reason why the players have come to the court prepared each night.

“I think as a program, we take a lot of pride in what we've accomplished in the past,” Mastroianni said. “Having players who can step in is a part of the reason we've been able to do that and still maintain with losing seven guys. This is the year we couldn't afford to have anybody injured.

“To have four guys out and us still maintain is a good sign moving forward.”

As the calendar flips to January in a few days, Mastroianni and the Quakers will enter the heat of section play with hopes of making another run in the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs.

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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